As the final days of 2023 come to a close, the Phoenix Suns find themselves further than ever from their goal of winning a first ever championship. The Christmas Day loss at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks a tough one, with Luka Doncic going for 50 points and highlighting all of the deficiencies of this Suns roster.
That loss was also punctuated by a lethargic performance from the Suns for much of the game. Although the hung around and made a run in the second half, to watch the game was to see a group in the Mavericks who know who and what they are at this stage of the season, while the Suns were poor defensively and had to work far too hard for a lot of their shots.
In fact if not for Grayson Allen and Chimezie Metu - who simply has to play more after his performance against the Mavericks - then this one would have been over long before it actually was. The loss leaving the Suns only three losses ahead of the Utah Jazz in 12th spot in the West, and out of playoff contention altogether right now.
Such were the bad vibes around the franchise in the aftermath of this loss, that former NBA player Brandon Jennings went so far as to say Kevin Durant should leave the team.
Jennings was responding to not only a performance that lacked spirit and fight from the Suns, but also a showing from Durant in which he looked uninterested for parts of the game. Jennings wasn't the only one you spotted that, and prior to the game NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski had mentioned on the air that Durant was frustrated with how the season had gone to this point.
It is fair to point out that not many people actually care what a nine-year player in Jennings has to say about Durant, the Suns, or anything else related to the league. His best accolade was scoring 55 points as a rookie, and then going on to wear the number 55 jersey for the Orlando Magic during an awful stint there.
But the wider problem here is the fact that Jennings tweeted this out after the game, and the reaction wasn't one of shock or dismay. If anything there were a worrying amount of Suns fans who were in favor of this actually happening, with plenty yearning for the days when the organization had Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson instead of Durant.
There were even more who rightly pointed out that Durant asked to be put in this situation - and even managed to get Bradley Beal to The Valley as well - having previously selected a location in Brooklyn with the Nets that he also created alongisde Kyrie Irving and James Harden. So for Durant to be frustrated after 29 games played this season with the Suns speaks volumes about where he is it.
Then again, Eric Gordon also recently spoke about not being happy with his role on the team, while Beal has also gone on the record with his frustrations about this campaign. All of which is fine - but when the noise coming out of a franchise is one of frustration with no clear way to make the situation better - then it is one that has to be monitored.
Maybe Jennings is also right to put forward the idea that both the Suns and Durant would ultimately be better apart as well. We're nowhere near close to that happening yet - the new CBA makes Durant extremely hard to trade and the Suns are all in on this group - but at 35-years-old it is clear he is running out of chances to win another championship.
Given that the Suns have lost in the NBA Finals three times, and that Beal just cannot stay healthy, Jennings might have a point about this being a cursed franchise as well. All of the pieces are in place to succeed, and yet the team have been much, much worse on both ends than anybody realistically thought possible so far this season. Which makes Brandon Jennings the... voice of reason here?